VertoFX, cross-border payments and forex firm raises $2.1m to scale into Africa

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VertoFX has raised $2.1m to build a cross-border payments platform for Africa and other emerging markets, just months after graduating from YCombinator.

Founded in 2017 by Nigerian-born, British ex-bankers Anthony Oduwole and Ola Oyetayo, VertoFX aims to make cross-border payments seamless starting from Africa and other emerging markets.

According to VertoFX CEO Ola Oyetayo: “We are in the early stages of helping businesses in emerging markets solve a significant problem they currently face and the funds we have raised will help put some fuel in our bus for the journey. We spoke to a number of investors after YC’s demo day but ADV’s patient capital ethos resonated strongly with Anthony and I. We are glad to have them and everyone else that participated in the round on board and are especially thankful to YCombinator for teaching us to build something people want.”

The investment will be used to scale technology; launch in additional markets; expand its operations; and increase the number of currencies it can offer on its platform. VertoFX also plans to increase its banking network and partnerships. This will facilitate an increase in geographical reach, enabling access to trade corridors that are currently under-served.

The London-based firm allows companies to gain easy access to foreign currencies and make international payments to their suppliers abroad seamlessly. With an FCA approval, the firm has opened accounts in 19 currencies and is currently processing millions of dollars in monthly transaction volumes for businesses with speed, affordability and transparency.

The firm uses a peer-to-peer model to avoid redundant banking infrastructures to match businesses with foreign currency needs via algorithms on its platform making access to currencies cheaper, faster and more secure.

A typical VertoFX customer, for example, could be a South-African based Solar energy company with suppliers from China which it needs to pay in RMB or USD on a weekly basis. VertoFX provides a solution for this with its advanced tech-stack and marketplace business model. It connects these companies and uses its networks of banks and infrastructure relationships to provide simpler settlement times plus liquidity in local currencies.

Tong Gu, Investment Lead at ADV commented: “The VertoFX team has already shown an incredible amount of tenacity in relocating for the YCombinator programme. This will stand them in good stead as they embark on a huge mission and deliver their solution to the worlds emerging markets. With the product, regulatory license and team already in place, the team has made great progress and we’re so excited to be part of this journey with them.”

VertoFX was among the seven Africa-focused startups present at Y Combinator’s Demo Day 4 months ago in a Winter 2019 class of 200 startups joining past YC companies from Africa such as Paystack, logistics firm Kobo360 and VOD startup Afrostream.

Y Cominbator Africa Nala

Others included Tanzania’s Nala, a simplified mobile money application that allows you to make faster, smarter and safer transactions without an internet connection. Founded Benjamin Fernandes, Nala lets users pay bills, do P2P payments and purchase cell phone minutes without an internet connection.

Nigeria’s 54gene was founded in 2019 by Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong to address the significant gap in the global genomics market: Nearly 90% of genetic material used in pharmaceutical research is caucasian. Only 2% is African, despite the fact that Africans and people of African ancestry are more genetically diverse than all other world populations combined.

As a result, pharmaceutical research and development is lacking the diverse data that may hold the key to medical discoveries and new healthcare solutions.

54gene aims to unlock the African genome by building the world’s first and largest pan-African biobank. Together with other pharmaceutical and biotech partners, we will study this dataset to identify diagnostic and therapeutic targets that benefit people all over the world. Co-founder Abasi Ene-Obong has a PhD in cancer biology from the University of London.

Thrive Agric from Nigeria gets funds to support farmers from people like you, with the promise of decent returns at the end of each farming cycle.
Backed by the team at Telefonica’s Wayra (United Kingdom), Google’s Launchpad, Ventures platform and a product of Ycombinator, UK DCMS we are on a mission to build an Africa that feeds the world and Itself.

CredPal (Nigeria): founded Fehintolu Olaogun and Olorunfemi Jegede. The platform allows users to make purchases and pay in stress-free, fixed monthly payments entirely on your terms, either with our credit card or at the point of checkout.

Schoolable (Nigeria): With a primary focus is to make affordable finance available to all players in the school value chain.

Wallet.NG (Nigeria):  A borderless digital bank that helps Africans transact seamlessly across the continent using any currency of their choice.